LAS VEGAS, Aug. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- International luxury travel network, Virtuoso®, continued its week of celebration by announcing the highly-anticipated winners of the 2013 Best of the Best hotel awards last night at its 25th annual Virtuoso Travel Week conference. Drawing some of the biggest names in the industry, the Best of the Best winners were revealed before a record audience of 1500 attendees during the Hotels & Resorts Dinner.
Virtuoso selected only 10 winners from the network's renowned Hotels & Resorts Program, an amazing portfolio of 983 hotels, resorts, villas and private island retreats in 100 countries. The first hospitality program of its kind, Virtuoso created the group's hotel program to serve the needs of its member travel agencies and their discerning clientele. It ranks as the industry's most prestigious and longest-running hotel program, all of which elevate the network's status as an industry trailblazer and trusted innovator.
"This year we are pleased to honor some incredible hotels and one exceptional general manager," says Albert Herrera, senior vice president of Global Product Partnerships for Virtuoso. "For more than 20 years, we have been curating a portfolio of the world's best hotels, making for some stiff competition. These properties possess a quality that makes them rise above the rest in their given category; they are true Virtuosos."
Editors of VIRTUOSO LIFE, the network's multi-award-winning magazine, researched and selected the Best of the Best nominees in ten categories that ranged from most innovative guest experience to top hotel and hotelier of the year. Then Virtuoso enlisted the assistance of its travel agency members and their elite travel advisors to vote on and ultimately select the winners. The 2013 Best of the Best award recipients will be featured in the September/October 2013 issue of VIRTUOSO LIFE magazine, reaching 200,000 upscale, world travelers.
Award categories and recipients follow:
Best Achievement in Design: Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Dorado, Puerto Rico
Taking advantage of the stunning location and natural elements of the white sand beaches, Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a sleek 115-room retreat with an open and modern design. Once the plantation of the original developer, Laurance Rockefeller, the hideaway features beachfront accommodations just steps away from the Caribbean Sea.
Best Culinary Experience: La Scene, Prince de Galles, A Luxury Collection Hotel – Paris, France
The newly reopened 159-room Prince de Galles houses La Scene, led by executive chef Stephanie Le Quellec, whose artistry in the kitchen has earned her a place among today's French culinary stars. La Scene offers authentic gourmet French cuisine in an elegant setting. The dining room is sure to impress with an open kitchen set beneath a curtain of crystals.
Best Bar: The Armani/Bamboo Bar, Armani Hotel Milano – Milan, Italy
Set high above the skyline of Milan is the Armani/Bamboo Bar – a hip lounge with outstanding service and the perfect place to meet friends, socialize with locals, and enjoy a refreshing cocktail. Embodying the chic style of the Armani brand, the double volume ceiling, louvered window wall, and backlit onyx features creates a sleek, modern feel.
Best Family Program: The Gleneagles Hotel – Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland
The renowned 232-room resort in the Scottish Highlands is well known for its three championship golf courses, but other leisure activities fit for the whole family are not to be missed. Activities range from croquet and cycling to fly-fishing and falconry. Families can take lessons at the gundog school, the equestrian center, or the off-road driving program, in which kids can take control of mini Land Rovers.
Best Spa: Spa Mukul, Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa – Tola, Nicaragua
Perched on a hill with unmatched views of the Nicaraguan coast-line, Spa Mukul's six casitas harness different ancient keeling traditions and therapies. Each casita is home to a different sequence of experiences and evoke a unique and soothing sense of place. Designed by renowned spa consultant Angel Vezina Stewart, the spa includes private steam showers, an outdoor pool, relaxation spaces, and a private garden entry.
Most Innovative Guest Experience: Banjaar Tola by Taj Safaris – Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India
Banjaar Tola, Taj Safaris' third jungle safari lodge, is a memorable experience for anyone wishing to immerse themselves in nature. The 18 secluded tents are set on a bank above the Banjaar River, which acts as a corridor for animals traveling between the park and buffer forest. The sounds of the forest can be heard throughout the jungle, as kingfishers, flycatchers, orioles, and magpie robins come to life at dawn.
Sustainable Tourism Leadership - Hotel: The Savoy – London, England
The 268-room hotel recently underwent renovations that protected cultural heritage, such as eliminating plastic and Styrofoam use, recycling all food waste into renewable energy, and sourcing food and beverages locally and responsibly. There's even a 'green butler' on hand to show guests how to sightsee in London in an environmentally friendly way.
One to Watch: The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort – Abu Dhabi, united Arab Emirates
Adding to the St. Regis portfolio, the brand extended its legacy to the capital city of Abu Dhabi, which is booming with rich heritage and cultural attractions. Located 10 minutes from bustling downtown and located on the beach overlooking the Arabian Gulf, the 377-room resort is set to become one of the hottest destinations in the area.
Hotelier of the Year: Francois Delahaye, Hotel Plaza Athenee, Dorchester Collection – Paris, France
Once one of the youngest general managers of a five-star Paris hotel, Francois Delahaye, has brought a remarkable and unforgettable ethos to the industry for more than 20 years. He has a sensitivity to his staff and is committed to the guest experience from start to finish.
Hotel of the Year: Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong – Hong Kong, China
The tallest structure in Hong Kong when it first opened, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong still towers above the competition. Located in the heart of the city overlooking Victoria Harbour, the hotel offers more than just luxurious accommodations and outstanding service in each of the 501 rooms, 10 restaurants, and two-story Chinese medicine spa. The enduring combination of modern luxury and ancient Eastern influences continue to make Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong's most popular hotel.
About Virtuoso Travel Week
Virtuoso Travel Week brings together nearly 2,000 travel advisors from Virtuoso's elite travel agency members in 20 countries, as well as executives from the network's more than 1,700 preferred travel providers – hotels/resorts/spas, private islands, villas, cruise lines & private yacht companies, tour operators, airlines and private jet companies, tourism boards and many specialty companies. More than 4,100 of the most prominent players in luxury travel attend.
Virtuoso® is the industry's leading luxury travel network. This by-invitation-only organization comprises 335 agencies with more than 7,200 elite travel specialists in 20 countries in North and South America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, as well as over 1,700 of the world's best travel providers and premier destinations. The network's member agencies generate over $9.6 billion annually in travel sales, making the group the most powerful in the luxury travel segment. Their relationships with the finest travel companies provide the network's affluent clientele with exclusive amenities, rare experiences and privileged access. For more information, visit www.virtuoso.com. To view Virtuoso's latest videos, go to http://www.youtube.com/user/VirtuosoTraveler.
Virtuoso – Director, Public Relations
Charles G. Curkin
Senior Account Executive
Alice Marshall Public Relations
Phone: 212. 861.4031
Alice Marshall Public Relations